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Democrats who care about Palestine — prepare to be censored by the media

on 17 Comments

Heads up to all you Democratic Party activists who care about Palestinian rights: prepare to get marginalized by the establishment media and the Democratic Party elite.

As you know, there is now a battle inside the Party platform committee over what the platform will say about Israel and Palestine, with Bernie Sanders committee representative Cornel West saying that the party is “beholden” to AIPAC.

But there is huge pressure on the Sanders forces from the Hillary Clinton camp to keep their mouths shut about Palestine and move on to fight Donald Trump. And the media is helping out the party leadership by making the story yesterday’s news. New York Times covered the split over Israel and Palestine last month, but did not cover the more recent battle over Israel/Palestine language last week in D.C.

Last night Chris Matthews did his part by airing a Hardball segment on MSNBC titled “Bernie Sanders’ list of demands,” which then left out a key demand! Matthews essentially censored any mention of Israel and Palestine. Though he teased the segment with a vague reference to the Israel/Palestine fight:

There’s a mideast fight coming up. We’ve got Jim Zogby in there and Cornel West. We got some people who are pretty red hot on some issues in there right now who are going to make some issues out of foreign policy.

But after that, the segment had nothing at all to say about the Middle East, let alone Palestine. And Hardball should be seen as official media w-r-t the Democratic Party. The segment featured Ed Rendell, who is a Democratic Party establishment figure (and Israel supporter) whose former political guru, David Cohen, is executive vice president of Comcast, the media company that owns MSNBC. Cohen is also a big Israel supporter: a former Jewish Federations leader who has been honored by an organization that buys up land to give to Jews in Israel. Cohen has held a big fundraiser for Hillary Clinton and held fundraisers for President Obama.

No wonder Chris Matthews keeps his mouth shut about those “red hot” issues.

On the show last night, Joy Reid sought to propitiate the Sanders red hots by saying that “in a lot of ways he’s gotten the fundamental things that he wanted.” She said the Democratic Party is “significantly to the left” of where it was when Clinton began running for president, “on things like trade,” the Keystone pipeline, and income inequality. Reid cited Elizabeth Warren and Occupy as other progressive forces. “He should take some credit for what he’s achieved and not look at like personal battles with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, I think it diminishes what he accomplished.”

Notice again that she left out Israel and Palestine as issues that the left ought to care about. This has been the pattern for 50 years: our party will be somewhat liberal on lots of domestic issues, but we’re shoulder to shoulder with the Republicans on Israel and don’t try and politicize that. A lot of us thought Israel support was going to be politicized this year. It has been, to some extent, but now’s the time to shut up. There are sure to be demonstrations at the convention next month in Philadelphia. I predict that only the left/alt press is going to cover them.

The US Campaign to End the Occupation is doing its part to get the conversation into the mainstream. It cites Cornel West’s statement at the platform committee meeting that the issue of Palestinian rights is now at a “turning point” in the US discourse. The US campaign urges folks to submit their views to the Democratic platform drafters here, and it writes:

Cornel West is right. If these conversations are happening at the highest levels of political parties, then we are indeed at a turning point.

And with the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia approaching next month, we have an amazing opportunity to make our voices heard loudly

Speaking of marginalization, this is a related development. The latest Foreign Affairs has a new special issue all about the “struggle for Israel.” The tiny country gets red carpet media treatment. You’d never know from this special issue that the country’s leadership is exploding, with the center saying that the rightwing government is paranoid, extremist, Nazilike, and posing an “existential” crisis to the state. No Israel is just going through a transition here. The issue features a piece by a pro-Israel propagandist, Martin Kramer, two pieces by Israeli journalists Aluf Benn and Amos Harel, an overly hopeful interview with Tzipi Livni that never addresses human rights atrocities, and a softball interview with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked with only mild pushback against her intolerance from interviewer Jonathan Tepperman. Oh and a very good piece about Israel’s second class Palestinian citizens, by the Palestinian scholar As’ad Ghanem.

But there is nothing I can find about life in the occupied territories in this panoply. The piece on Israeli political culture by an Israeli journalist completely downplays Israel’s fascist currents, leaving out a high general’s charge that Israel is echoing the Nazi period. And there is nothing from an American critic of the special relationship, let alone an anti-Zionist or pro-Boycott leader.

And you will see that in the same issue of Foreign Affairs, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer have an essay about a new grand strategy for U.S. foreign policy, called the Case for Off-shore balancing. In it they call for better relations with Iran, describe ISIS as a “minor problem” for the U.S., see China as a real economic threat to be taken on, and say of Europe: “the United States should end its military presence and turn NATO over to the Europeans.” The word Israel doesn’t appear in their essay; though this is the tenth anniversary of their groundbreaking essay on the Israel lobby, Foreign Affairs doesn’t want to hear any of that from them. No, it devotes a half dozen navel-gazing articles to Israel, making it seem like it is a normal country in flux, occasionally wondering if it is too dependent on the U.S. That’s how the establishment works: raises mild questions, marginalizes real critics.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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17 Responses

  1. Scott on June 16, 2016, 6:16 pm

    It would be nice to find the clip from several months ago when Matthews, late on a primary night on MSNBC, and not on set, said Cruz was signaling he was going for the hawk vote, to “fight wars for Israel.” Brian Williams, in the studio, asked Matthews what he was drinking in that coffee cup.

    • annie on June 16, 2016, 6:31 pm

      oh i missed that scott — but i’d like to see it!

      • Lillian Rosengarten on June 17, 2016, 10:38 am

        Can’t stand Matthews or any of the pundits on MSNBC. CNN not much better.

      • annie on June 17, 2016, 1:45 pm

        luckily i don’t have tv reception lillian, but i do occasionally watch clips via the internet.

  2. alfa on June 17, 2016, 12:13 am

    I watched Sander’s speech tonight waiting for him to say the O word. 70 years old and after following the act for much of those years I allowed myself trust a political wanta be. Shame on me.

  3. JWalters on June 17, 2016, 2:49 am

    I commend Mondoweiss for its Pulitzer Prize level of documenting and analyzing the Israel-Palestine conflict. This coverage is in stark contrast with the virtual complete absence of honest coverage by the establishment media. Especially valuable are the stories like this one, that point out the abject dishonesty of the establishment media.

    The incident with MSNBC is telling and typical. It’s clear to a careful observer that there are many reporters who would love to tell the American public what’s going on here, but who are restrained by their company owners. An excellent account of this type of coercion and control was recently published, describing in detail how CBS owners spiked an honest revisiting of the Warren Commission report, and then ordered up a falsified story for broadcast.

    In the aggregate these stories show clearly that America is living under a blanket of disinformation. This blanket is not due to some quirk of “the system”. It can only be due to a small number of specific people who have attained control of key levers in the system, and who use that control to intentionally lie and prey upon others.

    The nature of this power is inevitably at root a vast amount of money. As Deep Throat advised Woodward and Bernstein, “Follow the money”. The money needs to be followed all the way back to the tap root of the corruption. That tap root needs to be cut off, along with all its spokesmen and women, and all thrown into the garbage dump of human history.

    Fortunately, more people are increasingly getting their news from the internet, and are discovering that the establishment media are feeding the people lies and cover stories. Once a person makes this discovery, it’s not hard to believe the truthful worst about the New York Times, the PBS Newshour, NPR, ABC, CBS, NBC, etc. News and analysis providers with integrity, like Mondoweiss, will be increasingly appreciated for the vital service they perform for democracy and the human race. This is not a game.

  4. Kathleen on June 18, 2016, 1:00 pm

    Put up a comment yesterday. Did not make it. Clearly with only 6 comments up in response to this incredible piece..something is up.

    Phil this is an incredibly well done and substantive piece. Thank you.

    Matthews has been dipping his toes in a bit for years. Always on the safe side. Always. On MSNBC Dylan Ratigan, Cenk Uygar, Melissa Harris Perry have all gone much farther on the I/P, issue as well as on Iran than Chris Matthew, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Al Sharpton who all play it really safe and dishonest. Those huge multi million dollar paychecks keep them behind the wall of silence so methodically put up and kept in place in our MSM over the decades.

    Melissa Harris Perry went much further than anyone on this issue and providing the public with a wider and more accurate view of the conflict and the deal with Iran by having foreign policy expert Hillary Mann Leverett on many times over the last couple of years. Sure seems like MHP may have been bought off by MSNBC when they sent her on her way. Must have bought her silence on the reasons for her departure out of the MSNBC back door. Tensions boiling over in the Middle East | MSNBC

    Remember this : Glenn Greenwald and Dylan Ratigan Destroy Neocon Warmongering …

    Video for Dylan Ratigan Glenn Greenwald Cliff May▶ 12:55

    • annie on June 19, 2016, 4:47 pm

      Put up a comment yesterday. Did not make it.

      kathleen, i just check our trash going back 6 days and there’s nothing from you in there. we’ve been experiencing some technical difficulties recently which include a whole range of non access — intermittently. please try posting again. sorry to you and everyone experiencing difficulties posting.

      • Kathleen on June 20, 2016, 4:04 pm

        Would not go through at all. Wondering if other folks were having same problem. The above comment went through and similar to what I had been trying to get through.

      • Mooser on June 20, 2016, 4:21 pm

        “Kathleen” last week was my week for reduced or no access to “Mondo” Last couple of days seem fine. And, now and again, comments just get dropped, with no “500” message.
        Just the vagaries of the usually reliable, but very heavily loaded, internet.

      • Kathleen on June 21, 2016, 10:14 am

        Really did not care so much about my comment not getting through. Knew there had to be technical difficulties. Just seemed likely that others had possibly tried to do so in response to this incredible piece by Phil. So much here

  5. Kay24 on June 19, 2016, 6:46 am

    Cannot access the article in the MSNBC link. It says “permission denied”.

  6. ritzl on June 19, 2016, 4:34 pm

    It looks like Alison Weir was right to find alternate media outlets. She was strategically brilliant but could/should have done better tactically. Now the people who cut her off at the knees instead of working with her to improve the tactical application of a brilliant strategy are all in a tizzy about not being able to get the exact same message out anywhere.

    Meanwhile Palestinians in Palestine are being killed by the hundreds every year and many more are dying from occupation-caused bad water, lack of medical care, etc., etc., etc.

    Seems odd to me to put so much energy into purifying (apparently by fire) your media outlets/channels when you don’t have many/any alternatives and so many Palestinian lives and futures are at stake.

    I fear for the Palestinians in Palestine. They always seem to come in last place on everyone’s list.

  7. Kathleen on June 23, 2016, 3:47 pm

    This is the first time in my die hard Dem voting life (45 years of voting) that I have no candidate with a chance to win to vote for. Without Bernie as a contender and cannot stomach voting for a proven and deadly war hawk like Hillary with massive tie$ to Wall Street, promoted fracking around the world as Secretary of State, was for the TPP before she was against, was against the Iran deal before she was for. Just cannot do it.

    Will be the first time I have ever voted for a third party candidate…going Jill Stein at this point.

    Have never voted for such a proven war hawk. Not about to start now.

    Following Muhammad Ali’s lead…courage of one’s convictions.

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